22 August 2022
10 Top tips for successful funding bids
10 Top tips for successful funding bids
It’s been a hard year for charities. For some a fall in income hit rising demand head on. So making sure funding bids are successful is more important than ever. Every application needs to grab attention, show you’re a perfect fit for the funder’s criteria, and prove your impact.
Be prepared. Don’t write a word until you’ve read everything through thoroughly, twice, and got to grips with the funder’s submission process. Make a checklist of every conceivable piece of information you might need to provide. Play around with the online portal or application form and make sure there’s nothing that could catch you out once you’ve started filling it in.
Gather your evidence. Use your checklist to bring together all your information in one folder. This might include: data, impact stories, press articles, comments from experts, research, evaluation reports from previous projects, charitable status information and your annual accounts. Start thinking about how your evidence matches what the funder says they want. And label everything clearly so it’s easy to find as you go through the application process.
Get your house in order. Remember, funders are likely to check your website and social media as well as reading your application. They may also look at your submissions to the Charity Commission. Make sure everything is up to date and consistent.
Get to know the funding organisation intimately. As well as their grants criteria, familiarise yourself with their history, aims, objectives, people and brand. This information will help you show why you’re a good fit for their funding – and an organisation they’ll want to work with. So, once you know who they are and what they’re after, reflect that back in the language you use in your application.Some funders will be looking to do more than give out money. For example, if they’ve expressed an interest in volunteering opportunities, make sure your answers include some carefully considered details about how volunteers will support your project.
Don’t assume the funder knows anything about you, even if you’re a well-known organisation. The funder might be reading hundreds of applications and will appreciate you explaining clearly and concisely what you do, as well as the benefits you bring and impact you have.
Demonstrate the need you’re addressing. Without naming names, explain why other services aren’t meeting that need – and why, with their funding, you will. Show how you’re breaking new ground, driving an issue forward and doing something different. Use concrete statistics and evidence-based predictions to demonstrate how you’ll tackle the issue and prevent it from getting worse.
Get personal. Of course, you’ll need to explain exactly how you’ll spend the money, but it’s equally important to demonstrate the difference your project or service will make to people’s lives. As well as providing personal stories, add first-person quotes to illustrate key points throughout.
Watch the word count. Don’t waffle but do make sure what you say is specific and sufficiently detailed. Use clear and concise sentences. Avoid buzz words and ditch any jargon or unnecessary acronyms. Try to use facts rather than adjectives – they’re more compelling, believable and interesting. For example, compare “award-winning” to “really great”.
Style AND substance. The language you use is really important. But so is the layout. Stream of consciousness with no paragraph breaks will overwhelm the reader. Give them space to absorb your brilliance.
Proofread. Proofread again. Then get someone else to do it.
Mistakes people make when applying for funding:
- Not answering the question that’s been asked. Remember, most organisations will be happy to take a phone call or answer an email to explain anything you’re not sure about.
- Obviously copy and pasting from other applications. Tailor – and check – all your copy carefully.
- Using jargon and acronyms. If you absolutely have to use acronyms, don’t forget to spell them out the first time you use them.
- Only giving part of the story. For example, not explaining how you’ll tackle a certain part of the project, or pay for something that isn’t covered by the grant you’re applying for.
- Inconsistencies and errors. These will trash your credibility.
- Expecting funders to ‘take your word for it’. Make sure you supply plenty of proof (data, personal stories, impact information) to back up your statements.
Advice and resources: